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all prejudicate respects unto persons or present traditions, is a course that I would admonish all to beware of, who would avoid the danger of being made (what they call) INDEPENDENTS." Having said thus much of that book, all that I shall add concerning it is, that the famous Mr. Rutherford himself, in his treatise intitled, “A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist,” has these words: “Mr. Cotton, in his Treatise of the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, is well sound in our way, if he had given some more power to assemblies and in some lesser points." But it was convenient the churches of New-England should have a system of their discipline, extracted from the word of God, and exhibited unto them, with a more effectual, acknowl. edged and established recommendation: and nothing but a council was proper to compose the system. The reader is now to expect a council at Cambridge; and, in truth, another sort of council than that sham "Council of Trent,” whereof one that was present, wrote this account unto the Emperor Maximilian II.
“We daily saw hungry and needy bishops come to Trent. Youths, for the most part, given to luxury and riot, hired only to give their voice, as the people pleased. They were both unlearn'd and simple, yet fit for the purpose, in regard of their impudent boldness. When these were added unto the Pope's old Aatterers, iniquity triumph’d; it was impossible to determine anything, but as they pleased. The council seemed not to consist of bishops, but of disguised masquers; not of men, but of images, such as Dædalus made, moved by nerves none of their own. They were hireling bishops, which, as country bag-pipes, could not speak but as breath was put into them.”
The difference between the bishops now to assemble at Cambridge, and the bishops which then made such a noise by their conventicle at Trent, was in truth not much less than that between angels and devils.
82. Wherefore, a bill was preferred unto the general court in the year 1646, for the calling of a synod, whereby, a "platform of church discipline,” according to the direction of our Lord Jesus Christ in his blessed word, might most advantageously be composed and published. The magistrates in the general court passed the bill, but the deputies had their little scruples how far the civil authority might interpose in matters of such religious and ecclesiastical cognizance; and whether scaffolds might not now be raised, by the means whereof the civil authority should pretend hereafter to impose an uniformity, in such instances which had better be left at liberty and variety. It was reply'd, that it belong’d unto magistrates by all rational ways to encourage truth and peace among their people; and that the council now called by the magistrates was to proceed but by way of council, with the best light which could be fetched from the word of God; but the court would be after all free, as they saw cause to approve or to reject what should be offered.
After all, tho' the objections of the deputies were thus answered, yet, in compliance with such as were not yet satisfied, the order for the calling of the intended assembly was directed only in the form of a motion, and not
of a command, unto the churches. But certain persons, come lately from England, so inflamed the zeal for "liberty of conscience” among the people, that all this compliance of the authority could not remove the fear of some churches, lest some invasion of that liberty were threatened by a clause in the order of the court, which intimated "that what should be presented by the synod, the court would give such allowance as would be meet unto it. The famous and leading church of Boston, particularly, was ensnared so much by this fear, that upon the Lord's day, when the "order of the court” was first communicated unto them, they could not come unto an immediate resolution of sending any delegates unto the synod; but Mr. Norton, then of Ipswich, at Boston lecture the Thursday following, preached an elaborate sermon unto a vast auditory, on Moses and Aaron kissing each other in the mount of God: and in that sermon, he so represented the nature and power of synods, and the respect owing from churches to rulers calling for synods, that on the next Lord's day, the church voted the sending of three messengers, with their elders, unto this assembly. Indeed, the happy experience of New-England has taken away from its churches all occasion for any complaint like that of Luther's: Mihi conciliorum nomen, pene tam suspectum et invisum, quam nomen Liberi Arbitrü *
§ 3. It being so near winter before the synod could convene, that few of the ministers invited from the other colonies could be present at it, they now sat but fourteen days; and then adjourned unto the eighth of June in the year ensuing. Nevertheless, at their first session, there was an occasion which they took to consider and examine an important case; and it came to this result:
A PROPOSITION ABOUT THE MAGISTRATE'S POWER IN MATTERS OF RELIGION.
“The civil magistrate in matters of religion, or of the first table, hath power civilly to command or forbid things ecting the outward man which are clearly commanded or forbidden in the word, and to inflict suitable punishments, according to the nature of the transgressions against the same.”
Several arguments, with testimonies for the confirmation of this position annexed thereunto, were afterwards printed at London in the year 165+, accompanied with a discourse of Mr. Tho. Allen, wherein this doctrine was further explained, and I would hope so explained, that if so renowned a saint, as the famous Martin, who, to the death, renounced communion with the synods which had perswaded the emperor to employ the civil sword against the Gnostick Priscillianists, had been alive, even he would not have altogether disallowed the desires of these good men to see the civil magistrate employing his power to discountenance profane and wicked heresies. But the “platform of church discipline" to be commended unto the
• To me the name of Councils is almost as much suspected and as offensive as that of Free-Will.
churches, was the main chance which the assembly was to mind; in order whereunto they directed three eminent persons-namely, Mr. John Cotton, Mr. Richard Mather, and Mr. Ralph Partridge—each of them to draw up a scriptural “model of church government;" unto the end that, out of those, there might be one educed, which the synod might, after the most filing thoughts upon it, send abroad. When the synod met, at the time to which they had adjourned, the summer proved so sickly that a delay of one year more was given to their undertaking; but at last the desired "platform of church discipline” was agreed upon, and the synod broke up, with singing the song of Moses and the Lamb,” in the fifteenth chapter of the Revelation-adding another sacred song from the nineteenth chapter of that book; which is to be found metrically paraphrased in the New-England psalm-book: so it was presented unto the general court, in the month of October, 1648.
And the court most thankfully accepted and approved of it. It now follows:
A PLATFORM OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE,
GATHERED OUT OF THE WORD OF GOD,
AND AGREED UPON BY THE ELDERS AND MESSENGERS OF THE CHURCHES
ASSEMBLED IN THE SYNOD, AT CAMBRIDGE, IN NEW-ENGLAND.
ERATION AND ACCEPTANCE IN THE LORD, THE 8T1 MONTH, ANNO 1649.
OF THE FORM OF CHURCH-GOVERNMENT; AND THAT IT IS ONE, IMMUTABLE, AND PRESCRIBED
IN THE WORD.
1. ECCLESIASTICAL polity, or church-government or discipline, is nothing else but that form and order that is to be observed in the church of Christ upon earth, both for the constitution of it, and all the administrations that therein are to be performed.
2. Church-government is considered in a double respect, either in regard of the parts of government themselves, or necessary circumstances thereof. The parts of government are prescribed in the word, because the Lord Jesus Christ, (Heb. iii. 5, 6; Exo. xxv. 40; 2 Tim. iii. 16,) the King and Law.giver in his church, is no less faithful in the house of God, than was Moses, who from the Lord delivered a form and pattern of government to the children of Israel in the Old Testament; and the holy Scriptures are now also so perfect as they are able to make the man of God perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto every good work; and therefore doubtless to the well-ordering of the house of God.
3. The parts of church-government are all of them exactly described in the word of God, (1 Tim. iii. 15; 1 Chr. xv. 13; Exod. ii. 4; 1 Tim. vi. 13.
16; Heb. xii. 27, 28; 1 Cor. xv. 24,) being parts or means of instituted worship according to the second commandment, and therefore to continue one and the same unto the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, as a king. dom that cannot be shaken, until he shall deliver it up unto God, even to the Father. (Deut. xii. 32; Ezek. xlv. 8; 1 Kin. xii. 31, 32, 33.) So that it is not left in the power of men, officers, churches, or any state in the world, to add, or diminish, or alter any thing in the least measure therein.
4. The necessary circumstances, as time and place, &c., belonging unto order and decency, are not so left unto men, as that, under pretence of them, they may thrust their own inventions upon the churches, (2 Kin. xii.; Exo. xx. 19; Isa. xxviii. 13; Col. i. 22, 23,) being circumscribed in the word with many general limitations, where they are determined with respect to the matter to be neither worship it self, nor circumstances separable from worship. (Acts xv. 28; Mat. xv. 9; 1 Cor. xi. 23, and viii. 34.) In respect of their end, they must be done unto edification; in respect of the manner, decently and in order, according to the nature of the things themselves, and civil and church custom. Doth not even nature its self teach you? Yea, they are in some sort determined particularly—namely, that they be done in such a manner as, all circumstances considered, is most expedient for edification: (1 Cor. xiv. 26, and xiv. 40, and xi. 14. 16, and xiv. 12. 19; Acts xv. 28.) So
if there be no error of man con• cerning their determination, the determining of them is to be accounted as if it were divine.
OF THE NATURE OF THE CATHOLICK CHURCH IN GENERAL, AND IN SPECIAL OF A PARTICULAR
1. The catholick church is the whole company of those that are elected, redeemed, and in time effectually called from the state of sin and death unto a state of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ.
2. This church is either triumphant or militant. Triumphant, the number of them who are glorified in heaven; militant, the number of them who are conflicting with their enemies upon earth.
3. This militant church is to be consider'd as invisible and visible. (2 Tim. ii. 19; Rev. ii. 17; 1 Cor. vi. 17; Eph. iii. 17; Rom. i. 8; 1 Thes. i. 8; Isa. ii. 2; 1 Tim. vi. 12.) Invisible, in respect to their relation, wherein they stand to Christ as a body unto the head, being united unto him by the Spirit of God and faith in their hearts. Visible, in respect of the profession of their faith, in their persons, and in particular churches. And so there may be acknowledged an universal visible church.
4. The members of the militant visible church, considered either as not yet in church order, or walking according to the church order of the gos
pel. (Acts xix. 1; Col. ii. 5; Mat. xviii. 17; 1 Cor. v. 12.) In order, and so besides the spiritual union and communion common to all believers, they enjoy moreover an union and communion ecclesiastical, political. So we deny an universal visible church.
5. The state of the members of the militant visible church, walking in order, was either before the law, (Gen. xviii. 19; Exod. xix. 6,) economical, that is, in families; or under the law, national; or since the coming of Christ, only congregational (the term independent, we approve not): therefore neither national, provincial, nor classical.
6. A congregational church is by the institution of Christ a part of the militant visible church, consisting of a company of saints by calling, united into one body by an holy covenant, for the publique worship of God, and the mutual edification of one another in the fellowship of the Lord Jesus. (1 Cor. xiv. 23. 36, and i. 2, and xii. 27; Ex. xix. 5, 6; Deut. xxix. 1, and 9 to 15; Acts ii. 42; 1 Cor. xiv. 26.)
OF THE MATTER OF THE VISIBLE CHURCH, BOTH IN RESPECT OF QUALITY AND QUANTITY.
1. The matter of the visible church are saints by calling.
2. By saints, we understand—1, Such as have not only attained the knowledge of the principles of religion, and are free from gross and open scandals, but also do, together with the profession of their faith and repentance, walk in blameless obedience to the word, so as that in charitable discretion they may be accounted saints by calling, (tho' perhaps some or more of them be unsound and hypocrites inwardly) because the members of such particular churches are commonly by the Holy Ghost called "saints and faithful brethren in Christ;" and sundry churches have been reproved for receiving, and suffering such persons to continue in fellowship among them, as have been offensive and scandalous; the name of God also, by this means, is blasphemed, and the holy things of God defiled and profaned, the hearts of the godly grieved, and the wicked themselves hardened and holpen forward to damnation. (1 Cor. i. 2; Eph. i. 1; Heb. vi. 1; 1 Cor. i.5; Ro. xv. 14; Psalm 1. 16, 17; Acts viii. 37; Mat. iii. 6; Ro. vi. 17; 1 Cor. i. 2; Phil. i. 2; Col. i. 2; Eph. i. 1; 1 Cor. v. 2. 13; Rev. ii. 14, 15. 20; Ezek. xliv. 7. 9, and xxiii. 38, 39; Numb. xix. 20; Hag. ii. 13, 14; 1 Cor. xi. 27. 29; Psa. xxxvii. 21; 1 Cor. v. 6; 2 Cor. vii. 14.) The example of such doth endanger the sanctity of others, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 2, The children of such who are also holy.
3. The members of churches, tho' orderly constituted, may in time degenerate, and grow corrupt and scandalous, which, tho' they ought not to be tolerated in the church, yet their continuance therein, thro' the